Read at Nieman Lab
The Messenger, a news site that shut down after burning through $50 million in eight months, faced significant internal issues in its final days. CEO Jimmy Finkelstein was known for berating top editors, especially women, and would call deputy editor Michelle Gotthelf at 4 a.m. to berate her over the editorial direction of the site. Multiple insiders reported that Finkelstein's behavior led to some employees shaking and crying. Additionally, Richard Beckman, who announced his departure due to health reasons, engaged in historical revisionism by making false revenue and funding claims before the site's launch.
"[Jimmy] Finkelstein, too, repeatedly belittled the outlet's top editors, three senior staffers noted - especially [Dan] Wakeford, deputy editor Michelle Gotthelf, and politics editor Marty Kady."
In a statement, Finkelstein denied berating top editors in the past eight months, claiming that there were only a handful of disagreements and that he deeply respected the editorial team. However, multiple sources confirmed the abusive behavior and its impact on employees. Meanwhile, Richard Beckman, who played a role in the site's failure, engaged in historical revisionism by making false revenue and funding claims. This reveals a pattern of mismanagement and false promises that contributed to The Messenger's demise.
"Meanwhile, [Richard] Beckman, who announced he was leaving The Messenger for health reasons just before the site's spectacular implosion, also used his final few weeks to push some historical revisionism on his colleagues."